The skeletons of two dinosaurs locked together in a fight found in the Hell Creek formation in Montana will be auctioned in November by Bonhams in New York to the dismay of many paleontologists who wished the fossils would go to a museum for further investigation.
The skeletons, which are believed to have been from the Cretaceous era, may be of two undiscovered kinds of dinosaurs. One is a Nanotyrannus lancensis, a type of pygmy T. rex, and the other a Chasmosaurine ceratopsian, a close relative to the Triceratops.
Thomas Carr, the senior scientific adviser at the Dinosaur Discovery Museum and director of the Carthage Institute of Paleontology in Wisconsin said the private sale of the fossils "lines" the seller's pockets "but hurts science" because it will keep the skeletons from being studied further.
A museum could still buy the fossils though it us unlikely that they will command the high price the pieces will go for at private auction. Both the Smithsonian and The American Museum of Natural History in New York were offered the chance to purchase the skeletons but passed. The Smithsonian claimed it would submit a private bid for the fossils.
The owners of the ranch where the fossils were found, Clayton Phipps and his wife, claim to have invested over $250,00 in the excavation alone.
The "Montana Dueling Dragons" are expected to sell for a projected price of $7 million to $9 million.